Is It Free?

I was standing outside a new taqueria in town. It was opening night, and I was waiting on the sidewalk with the throngs of people who had reserved a spot to be there on that first night for a sampling of tapas and tacos and free-flowing Margaritas.

We’d each paid $20 for the evening, and we were waiting to have our names ticked off the list that the bouncer held.

I was joking and laughing with my husband and people in line around us. It was a convivial crowd.

A homeless friend approached, bouncing down the sidewalk with his usual boundless energy. He asked me what I was doing, what I was waiting for.

I told him about the exciting new place and that we were waiting for the doors to open for our fun evening ahead.

He asked, “Is it free?”

“No, it’s not,” I said.

And I was stabbed with the reality that it wasn’t and that it’s not so fun to partake of things that people I care about can’t do.

And then I was pierced with the reality that I could have easily invited him — but didn’t.

And then I wondered why I’m often complacent about inequality, about not sharing what I have with others when — at other times — I say it’s something I value deeply.

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